Diary – Tehzib al-Nisvan

ڈائری - تہذیب النسواں Translated by: Asiya Alam. Original language: Urdu

Nur un-Nisa’ Begum

1900 – 1980

Every human being has the right to write a diary. Neither fame nor anonymity can keep anyone deprived of this freedom. Events, incidents and disclosures comprise the definition of life. If the diary of Macaulay tells us that he spent every moment of his life in some constructive engagement, then the diary of a poor and wretched person impresses upon us that even the starving people riddled with swollen ribs and shrunken cheeks hail from the same descendents of Adam on whose distinction and excellence men take pride.

Even though the constituents of each human heart are the same, the beat of each one is unique. And if the stories of all these heartbeats are written down in an ordinary notebook every day, one remains intrigued by life. An account of the plan of everyday life is also maintained. Furthermore, those who read it gain something whether they are conscious of it or not.

Writing a diary is not an arduous task. When some free time is available, just reflect on the important events of the day. And kindly maintain this routine. You will realize how interesting and pleasurable it is to write your thoughts as a judge of oneself.

You are exhausted after a long day. All household tasks have been completed and you are now completely free. So instead of wasting one’s time lying on a bed or complaining about neighbors, go to your room, pick up a notebook and write briefly the events of the day. If you can’t think of anything to write about and get worried over it, then simply express the state of this angst. But make sure you write. In the future, reports of these moments will make you flutter with delight and astonishment. By writing down your worries, you will be able to relieve your burden and by expressing your joys, you will allow your eyes in addition to your soul to partake in the experience. And in reward for writing about a few moments, a garden of several of your itsy bitsy curiosities will become available.

Those who have a craze for writing diary and who write the whole day have an intriguing record because they even manage to make confessions of things they would hesitate to talk about amongst their friends and loved ones. I consider diary to be a precious revelation about the musings of the human heart because the diary, if it is sincere and honest, unveils the truth of humanity.

If the educated worker, the munshi of the madrasa,[1] the office clerk, the shopkeeper, the writer, the banker, the head of state, the judge, the scientist, the philosopher all write their diary, then instead of turning the pages of myriad books about these professions, the basic principles of life, societal dilemmas and emotional inclinations contained in the fragments of these crooked truthful stories would provide greater delight to the reader.

Many people start to write the diary with great enthusiasm but gradually this interest of theirs starts to fade. And finally due to laziness they become reduced to nothing when it comes to being a diary-writer. The reason for this is that under the novel influence of diary writing, they initially compose long diaries. But people are extremely busy and therefore the length of the diary eventually makes them dejected. And they develop a hatred for this task. The only resolution for this temperamental laziness is that one devotes only five minutes for this task everyday. In weighed and balanced sentences, all the events should be written down tersely. And this practice should continue for a while. In the future, when you will gaze your eyes on the ebb and flow of the past while turning the pages of the diary, you will certainly be delighted and will discover that your diary is an attractive history (epoch) of a human life.

The everyday diary of students can be extremely useful for them. Actually, diary is the best cure for the disease of dementia. If you want to save yourself from the embarrassment of forgetting something, then write a diary-and write everyday. The diary of students can be very interesting because they interact with several exciting people daily. The temperament, inclinations and ways of being of each individual are unique. And then, this is the universal truth that:

Differences are the foundation of the world.



Noor-unnissa Begum, ‘Diary’, Tahzib-e Niswan (22 May 1943), pp. 321-322.


Further Bibliography

Arnold, David and Stuart Blackburn (eds), Telling Lives in India: Biography, Autobiography and Life History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004).

Minault, Gail, Secluded Scholars: Women’s Education and Muslim Social Reform in Colonial India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998).

[1] Munshi refers to a clerk whereas madrasa is a school.